I really struggled with this concept, those of you who have shared my journey will know that my aim was to stay away from leadership, my core purpose was solely around being the best teacher I could be. Early, while in middle leadership, I was told that all leadership had to be Machiavellian, that I had to be manipulative, you had to get people to do what you wanted. I was repulsed I felt that my leadership style would always be around the propagating my vision and being a person of integrity, being who I said I was.
It took time to realise that the vision propagation as well as the integrity, while fundamental parts of my character, they were also forms of manipulation. Even typing that now makes me shudder, I think the negative connations around the words just don’t sit right with me. Let me rephrase, leadership is about charm.
To charm followers, you have to become adept at influencing.
All leadership is around influence. Let’s start with push and pull methods of influence. In my leadership training, I stop the session and beckon people over with my hand, to this date candidates have always left their seats and come to the position I beckoned them to.
When asked why they came over often the response is
‘you asked us to’
‘I actually I didn’t.’
This type of influence is regarded as a ‘pull’ it’s an indirect and subtle method of persuasion. I then, with my most authoritative voice tell candidates to sit down, exemplifying the push method. Which is direct and assertive.
The other spectrum we need to consider is whether your technique will be logical or emotional. Together these make up the influencing framework.
Investigators = Push + Logic
These are the numbers people, here is the data the research. This is a logical decision. In my experience, these are teachers who have a mindset which incorporates real and exclusive truths (those with a positivistic ontological stance).
To adopt this style, you should be absolutely rational in your approach, no emotion just facts and logic behind that.
Often seen in Pace Setting and Coercive leadership.
Example: You are leading implementing a new behaviour for learning policy, the team are hesitant to the change, you start your narrative around the logic of the change, incorporating the expert opinions and the data around other similar schools who adopted the change.
Calculators = Pull + Logic
Calculators will promote the strength of a course of action and highlight the negatives of others. The arguments are logical and rational but are not as assertive as Investigators.
Often seen in Authoritative (Visionary) leadership style.
Example: The behaviour policy will impact on you personally by … and the downsides to not adopting means more of the same.
Motivators = Push + Emotion
Emotional awareness with an assertive nature, this method incorporates emotion at its core and justifies courses of action through the same method.
Often seen in coaching leadership style.
Example: This is the whole organisation is geared towards … This behaviour policy fits in with our overall vision because …
Collaborators = Pull + Emotion
This method is around using the emotions and involving people into the initiative. The democratic leadership style often involves this as an aspect, it’s a team effort, the follower is valued and so is their input, whilst all the time they are buying into the change.
Often seen in affiliative and democratic leadership styles.
Example: As this fits in with our vision, how are we going to make this work for us …
What To Do
- Interrogate your own preferred style of influencing, Ask yourself how would I influence people?
- Now do the opposite, how are you influenced by people?
- Evaluate the environment you are leading in.
- Armed with this, aim to use as many different methods as you can in your next encounter. Use your charm.
Baker, T. 2015, The New Influencing Toolkit, Palgrave Macmillan UK, London.
Baker, T. 2015, Date viewed 10th July 2019, <https://www.trainingjournal.com/blog/four-strategies-influence-learners>